Truckers across India start two-day strike over GST, fuel prices

Hundreds and thousands of trucks kept off the roads across India on Monday beginning a two-day strike to protest against the GST and calling for an end to daily revision of fuel prices. The strike sparked price rise due to an imminent disruption in supplies of essential commodities ahead of Diwali.

The decision to strike, which began at 8 a.m., came after last minute negotiations between the government and the transporters failed to resolve the logjam over their demands, Harish Sabharwal, Additional Vice President (North) of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), said.

“We are going on a nationwide chakka jam today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday). Negotiations with the government did not yield any results as they did not agree to our demands. The truckers will suffer a loss of Rs 2,000 crore. We are compelled to suffer this loss,” said Sabharwal, also a member in the Road Safety Council of the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways.

AIMTC is the top body of transporters in India and represents around 93 lakh truckers and around 50 lakhs bus and tourist operators across India.

Truck operators claim they were suffering because GST-related rules had created confusion because of the existence of Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) and Forward Charge Mechanism (FCM) in the new tax system.

The AIMTC said in a statement that the indirect tax regime had led to forced registration and unnecessary compliance by transporters and this needed to be done away with. Transporters are also miffed that sale of used assets attract double taxation under the GST and want this provision scrapped.

It said the double taxation – 28 per cent Goods and Services Tax while buying and selling trucks – was killing the truckers.

The transporters also said they were not able to lift goods from unregistered traders because it would mean that they would have to pay tax on behalf of the unregistered business under RCM.

Among many other issues related to GST, the transporters are also protesting the rise in diesel prices and the fuel being kept out of the new tax system. They demand that taxes on diesel should be rationalised in accordance with international markets and on the basis of crude oil prices.

The strike has hit supplies across India, including of food.

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